Press Release
February 3, 2011


DRILON: I keep on hearing 'The evidence is weak' etc etc. All of this happened before we heard the testimony of Mrs. Mendoza and Rabusa. Now, we note that a few days after the plea bargaining agreement was signed, the Office of the Ombudsman stated in the opposition to the petition for bail that the evidence of guilt was strong, but that's beside the point at this point. First, the plea bargaining agreement is still pending approval. Is that correct Madam Ombudsman?

GUTIERREZ: Yes your honor.

DRILON: As it is pending approval, given all these testimonies that you heard now, could you withdraw the plea bargaining agreement and now present as witnesses Rabusa and Mendoza? Can you do that?

GUTIERREZ: We have not yet received any formal statement from Col. Rabusa, from Heidi Mendoza...

DRILON: Madam Ombudsman, the testimony of Mr. Rabusa was under oath. The statement of Mendoza was under oath. Do you need to have a formal complaint? Can you not secure copies of the transcript of the statements made under oath and now withdraw the motion to approve the plea bargain and proceed to present these two witnesses together with the documents that they have in possession, in order to continue the prosecution? Can you not do that now? Withdraw the plea bargain?

GUTIERREZ: Mr. Chairman, I created a panel and I ordered them to get all the documents and I think they are already getting all the documents. Please allow us to assess the evidence and the corroborating evidence because right now, you have to understand that of course there will be findings. As head of the Office of the Ombudsman, I don't want to preempt the findings or whatever recommendations the investigators will have on this particular case. We do not want to rush...

DRILON: On that basis, can you not just withdraw first the motion to approve the plea bargaining agreement while you are reassessing everything, so that the Sandiganbayan does not have that pleading on that desk which they can approve at anytime? Can you not withdraw the motion for the approval of the plea bargaining agreement while you are reviewing? Because Madam Chair, unfortunately, you remind me of instances in the past where in the fertilizer scam, we gave you the evidence six years ago, up to now there is nothing filed. I am afraid that in that attitude that you will be reviewing everything, it will take three Congresses afterwards to have these things settled. My only request is, can you not withdraw the motion to approve the plea bargain? Withdraw it in the meantime while you are assessing again your evidence.

GUTIERREZ: Mr. Chairman, in the fertilizer scam...

DRILON: No, no just answer me directly.

GUTIERREZ: As of now, I cannot say that we will withdraw because we have a process. Mr. Chair, as much as I would like to do but we have a process.

DRILON: I am not even saying that you now decide to rescind the plea bargaining agreement. I'm just asking you, given all these testimonies that you heard, just to withdraw the motion for the approval of the plea bargaining agreement. That you are not even willing to do.

GUTIERREZ: Mr. Chairman...

DRILON: Answer me, yes or no.

GUTIERREZ: Because Mr. Chair...

DRILON: I'm asking, is she willing to do that?

GUINGONA: Please respond to the question.

GUTIERREZ: Mr. Chairman, please reconsider. It is not a matter of saying yes or no because nanonood po ang ating publiko. Kung sasabihin ko pong wi-withdraw ngayon, dapat po naman may justification.

DRILON: Yung justification eh narinig mo rito yung testimony under oath. And we are not even saying 'rescind the plea bargaining agreement'. We are just saying 'withdraw the pending motion to approve the plea bargaining agreement'.

GUINGONA: I think Madam Ombudsman the good senator is saying na habang nagmumuni muni ka kung itutuloy ba o hindi mo na itutuloy, pwede ba alisin mo muna sa desk ng mga Sandiganbayan justices para sa ganun ay hindi ma-approve ng Sandiganbayan habang nagmumuni-muni pa kayo. Pwede po ba yun? We're not saying that you approve it, disapprove it...

SOTTO: The question is, 'Can you?' 'Not'; 'Will you?' 'Yes'

MDS: Mr. Chair, more equitable for the Ombudsman to file a manifestation, not file a motion, just manifest that there has been an official request, if any, for reinvestigation and that you are submitting the information to the judge so that he will know that you are being diligent... you don't need to do this in the form of a motion. You can just enter it into the record.

GUINGONA: Well whether withdrawal or stated by the good senator, a manifestation. I guess Senator DRILON would ask also that. Are you willing to file a manifestation?

GUTIERREZ: Mr. Chairman, we will file a manifestation to that effect...

DRILON: To the effect that?

GUTIERREZ: To the effect that this recommendation coming from this body that we should withdraw the plea bargain agreement.

DRILON: And therefore the approval of the plea bargain should be held in abeyance?

GUTIERREZ: We will leave it up to the discretion of the court.

News Latest News Feed